The Connecticut Fireants Minor team ended last season on a high, winning the Tier II national championship. With the league’s format changing, the team got an automatic bid into the Tier I division. “We had a lot of people doubting our ability to compete” coach Mark St. Jean said before the season. Why would this be if the team won a national championship? Despite being 1 point from making the Tier I playoffs last year, the team did not finish strong against Tier I opponents. So how would the Fireants respond to so much hype? For starters, defenseman Ryan Lair showed up to the right rink. “I knew I was going to go to the wrong rink, so I left early” Lair said.
The team started right and early Saturday morning, Decemer 10th, playing the Long Island Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were renamed in the offseason, previously known as the Long Island Venum. They ended last year as a Tier I playoff contender, losing in the first round. “The one thing we talked about before the game was not to get in behind”, defenseman Troy Miller said before the game. He later clarified his position on “in behind”, saying it was a saying to not to get scored on early. He later clarified his position on “scoring” to say it was all hockey related. The Fireants started rookie Will Botelho, as returning goaltender Justin Teats was still recovering off of slippery drinks from the week before. The game started exactly opposite of Troy’s goals. The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead within 2 minutes of the first period. “I had to get my legs back after a long drive” Will said of his debut. He later came out with the truth. “Hathaway’s acid leaked on my bed before I went to bed Friday night and it took me a while to scrub the burns.” It certainly was not Will’s doing as to why they were down, as they seemed to be playing in quicksand in the first period, but would end strong with 3 straight goals from Troy Miller, Nick Tomsczyk, and Jordan St. Jean over a span of a minute, taking the lead 3-2 after 1 period. The second period would start out similar to the first, as the Bulldogs scored the first 2 goals. The Fireants would once again not give up, as David Joseph would score his first goal of the game, followed by Nicky’s second goal. “I learned in my experience with playing the slots, you keep pushing down the lever until something hits”, Nicky said of the team’s relentless play. The Bulldogs would not give up, with less than 2 minutes left Joe Pettrizzo would score his third goal of the game to tie the game 5-5. “That goal almost made me do a downward dog” Will yelled at reporters. Jordan would pepper the roni with less than one minute left from a pass from Troy Miller to help the Fireants win this first game of the season. “I love pepperoni” St. Jean said as he hugged coach St. Jean, his father, and life-long idol. In a 60-minute interview, Jordan told stories about how his father saved his life, most notably during a visit to the zoo when a monkey lured Jordan into the cage with a Subway eat-fresh sandwich. Coach Mark rushed to Subway and got a sub with double meat, which immediately changed Jordan’s course of direction. “I teach my kids and my players to be ready for every situation” coach Mark said in response to the teary-eyed story. Botelho would pick up his first career Fireants win, as he made huge saves down the stretch to help the Fireants start the season 1-0.
The Fireants next played the New Jersey Braves. The last time the team played the Braves was in New Jersey 2 years ago, which they were swept in comfortable fashion. “Like the smell of a shirt after the strip club, some things just don’t go away” goaltender Justin Teats said of the rivalry. He did not play for the team, but somehow visioned the games in his alternative state of mind the week before. The game started out exactly like the first, which would prove to be a theme though out the weekend. The Braves started the game with 2 goals in the first, taking a 2-0 lead after one period of play. Between periods, forward Sean Hathaway ran out to his car, tripped on a bump in the parking lot, falling underneath the hood of the car. He was doused with a liquid substance draining from the hood of the car, which when tested by local law enforcement, was determined to be acid. “Real Acid” Hathaway told police officers. All of this took a few minutes, as 7 minutes into the game, he would go on a tear, scoring 3 goals in less than 2 minutes. The game would then go into overtime, when the Fireants would eventually lose it’s first game of the season in overtime. Teats would save 19 of 23 shots, and the Fireants would move to 1-0-1 on the season.
Next up the Fireants would play a tough Philadelphia Liberty team. These two teams met once last year in a crossover jamboree game, which the Fireants would give the Liberty one of their 3 losses on the season. Much tension between these two teams fell over this game. Sticking with the theme, the Liberty would jump out to a 5-2 lead after one period, with Fireant goals from Sean Hathaway, and first career Fireants goal from Tyler Isaacs. “I put on my Beats headphones before every game and listen to my father lecturing me on how great I am”, Isaacs said. “I finally made him proud.” Could the team comeback a third time in a row? The answer- yes. Joseph Lambert and Lou Battista would lead the charge, both scoring their first goals of the year, followed by Nick Tomsczyk, scoring to tie the game 5-5. The teams would play a scoreless overtime period, and then came the shootout. Goaltender Justin Teats was flawless, while the Fireants Nick Tomsczyk and Troy Miller led the charge scoring and sealing the win for the Fireants. Teats ended the game stopping 25 of 30 shots and earning his first win of the season, improving the Fireants to 2-0-1 on the season.
The final game of day 1 for the Fireants was at 11:30pm vs. Delco Demons. This game ended on a high note for the Fireants, as they started the game scoring the first 2 goals (Isaacs and Tomsczyk) and never looking back. They would finish with goals from Troy Miller (2), Nicky Tomsczyk (3), David Joseph (1), Jordan St. Jean (1) and Sen Hathaway (1) to defeat Delco 9-5 and improve to 3-0-1. Botelho would stop 18 of 23 shots to earn his second victory of the season.
Sunday would feature the final 2 games of the weekend against the New Jersey Alliance and Empire State Legends. The team would start the Alliance game very similar to the start of Saturday, going down 6-2 in the first period, with goals from Isaacs and Joseph. The Ants would make a comeback, however, gave too much of a lead as the team lost 7-5 behind Justin Teats. The second game of the day vs. the Legends would also not start out well. The Legends scored first less than 30 seconds into the game, but the Ants would prevail with goals from Troy Miller (2), Lambert (1) and Tomsczyk (2) winning 5-2 to improve to 4-1-1 for the weekend. Botelho would notch the win, winning all 3 of his starts.
The Fireants continue their season January 7th in Eastern Long Island playing another 6-game Jamboree in a tough and competitive Tier I schedule. GO FIREANTS!!!